Stress management strategies and their effectiveness in the workplace

Stresson April 5th, 2014No Comments

Thus, a number of researchers have come to the conclusion that some stress management approaches do not yield outcomes that would warrant their use, such as organisation focused interventions (van der Klink, et al., 2001) and workplace counselling (McLeod & Henderson, 2003).  Whereas, others found evidence for the effectiveness of particular approaches, such as muscle relaxation techniques(Lahmann, Schoen, Henningsen, Ronel, Muehlbacher, Loew, Tritt,(2008))self-affirmations (Critcher, Dunning, & Armor, 2010)and cognitive-behaviour therapy (Haldane, 2007). In addition, (Gruzelier, Smith, Nagy, & Henderson, 2001) found that a relatively brief hypnotherapeutic intervention provided a low cost psychological intervention to mediate performance stress and (Whitehouse et al., 1996)found that self-hypnosis reduces distress in adults.

Given these conditions, it is not surprising that stress management programs can be difficult to implement, impractical to execute (McLeod & Henderson, 2003), too time consuming or costly (van der Klink, et al., 2001), and because of ambiguity in effectiveness, they may not attract the attention they deserve (Harris & Napper, 2005).(Edimansyah, Rusli, & Naing, 2008)identified that no study to date has tested the effects of a short duration, easy-to-implement stress management therapy that could reduce the effects of stress in an occupational setting.

According to (van der Klink, et al., 2001), interventions designed to reduce job stress and its health effects can be categorized into two basic approaches:

a)      organization-focused interventions, which aim to improve stressful work environments through organizational development and job redesign; and

b)      individual-focused approaches, which aim to increase individual psychological resources and responses.

 

Individual-focused approaches have been found to be more effective in reducing workers’ stress-related complaints(Edimansyah, et al., 2008).Yet,despite the relative effectiveness of the individual-focused approaches to stress management the underlying processes or mechanism by which these interventions work remains largely unexplained.

Cognitive behavioural programs (CBT) meanwhile, consistently produce larger effects than other types of interventions in stress management(Richardson & Rothstein, 2008). Modern hypnotherapy research has increasingly focused upon integrating hypnotherapy with CBT since the publication of Kirsch, Montgomery &Sapirstein’s(1995)influential meta-analysis which pooled data from 18 separate controlled studies (577 participants) comparing the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy to CBT alone.  They concluded that for 70-90% of clients, CBT was more effectivewhen integrated with hypnosis, i.e., that for the vast majority of clients cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy is superior to CBT alone.

 

The ‘non state’ cognitive behavioural theory of hypnosis literature proposes that a person’s level of positive expectations, attitudes, and motivation towards the intervention may be the mediating factors by which such psychological intervention is effective(Lynn, Fassler, & Knox, 2005). Contemporary research also suggests that the success of hypnotic interventions is due to a state of physical relaxation accompanied by mental concentration(Chapman, 2005).

 

These factors combined, appear to influence how much attention an individual directs towards the intervention. Attention here is defined as being the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things(Anderson, 2004).  The ability of an individual to focus his or her attention appears to be an important construct and thus may even be the most significant mediating factor identifying success or failure of an intervention. The relationship between attention and other cognitive processes remains a major area of investigation within psychology (Anderson, 2004).

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